On the morning of November 9, 2016, every person in the United States woke up and realized that the election of the prior day made history, but not how most people expected. Pollsters, reporters and even America’s children thought they’d wake up to the news that the first woman had been elected president. Instead, everyone woke up to find out that the first reality star was elected into office. To many, this was cause for excitement while for others, this was the start of a day of disappointment, anger and even hopelessness.
Sloan Guarino, an Armonk resident and mother of two, was one of the many who described feeling depressed on Nov. 9. Guarino could not wait to wake up and celebrate the first female president with her daughter, Stella. However, when she learned of the outcome, she realized she would have to confront the daunting task of breaking the news to her nine-year-old. Stella was equally as excited for Clinton to win the election, even going to watch her vote at Douglas G. Grafflin Elementary School in Chappaqua, NY. Stella said that when she saw Clinton vote, “everyone was cheering for her and I felt inspired.” According to Guarino, “as a parent, that was the worst part of the election. Having to look at her and say, ‘well what we were all excited about didn’t happen.’”
Guarino was determined, though, to show Stella that the election loss did not have to mean defeat. Although she felt angry at President Trump’s proposed policies, she wanted to “take that energy and channel it into something positive” by becoming part of the solution. That was when she and several friends came up with the idea for IMPACT, or Inspiring Meaningful Policy and Change Together, a political action group that would work to make a difference during this incredibly contentious time. The group does not strictly align with either democratic or republican ideologies. Instead, it focuses on “inspiring change that is positive for the community,” Guarino explained. Brooke Rosner, co-founder of IMPACT, wanted to “take action because we are fortunate that we have the right to speak out” in our country.
IMPACT is comprised of 15 like-minded mothers from Armonk, and they are working on expanding membership. The first challenge that the members wanted to tackle was proving to their children that they do not have to give up on what they believe in just because the election did not end as they had hoped. To do this, the members decided to host a bake sale at Armonk’s Third Thursday on July 20, 2017. This was the perfect way to get their daughters involved because the children could bake, make signs and donate the proceeds to a meaningful cause.
IMPACT chose the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) as the beneficiary of what would become the group’s first fundraiser. The UCS is focused on combining independent “technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future,” according to the mission statement on the organization’s website.
The women chose UCS for several reasons. First, the bake sale was at a community event and they wanted to pick an organization that nearly everyone could agree is a good cause, rather than one that is based on democratic versus republican ideology. Second, it is one that the children could understand and support since much of their education focuses on the environment. Stella explained “it is important to give them money because they don’t get any money from the government.” After nearly two hours of sales, the group raised $530, which Stella said made her and her friends “proud and happy.”
IMPACT has several goals for the upcoming months. First, the members are looking forward to getting involved in the Byram Hills Central School District PTSA by creating a new group called The Inclusion and Aware-ness Committee. Guarino will be in charge of the committee and she plans to implement programs that emphasize acceptance of others who may be different from you. The main goal of this committee is to raise children who treat everyone with respect. She hopes to implement age-appropriate programs for each grade level so everyone gets a basic set of guidelines for respect to live by as they grow up. On Sept. 19, the lower school had the first PTSA meeting where parents signed up for committees. 26 people signed up for Guarino’s new committee and she plans to get even more participation when it becomes district-wide.
Another goal on IMPACT’s agenda is volunteering in local elections. Guarino is determined to help George Latimer’s democratic campaign for County Executive of Westchester and Daren Tolz’s democratic campaign for Westchester County Legislature. She believes that these hyper-local elections are a great way to incite change within our country’s political system. Guarino hopes to help increase voter turnout rates by helping people get to the polls through ride shares and providing possible childcare services on Nov. 7.
Each day, Guarino, Rosner and their IMPACT colleagues are working to make a difference at a grassroots level. Stella said that it “makes [her] feel proud because [she has] never really seen her [mother] do something really important like this before.”